When Music Gets Out Of Control

First post for 2007… another Times Online article. This one was published last year but I’ve only just noticed they used it.

When music gets out of control” is a comment on the music industry’s response to the Gowers Report. They aren’t just in it for the money…

2 thoughts on “When Music Gets Out Of Control

  1. I suspect you are at least partially right, they have a lot to lose. Can’t have people getting creative and producing their own remixes and publishing them on the web in an uncontrolled manner.

    On a slight tangent if anyone wants to know more about copyright and has 8 hours to spare, this free video course from MITOPENCOURSEWARE looks good from the little I have watched already. OK it’s US law (which is death + 75 years) but I found that enlightening too. Thanks to John Ingleby over at schoolforge.org.uk for spotting it.

  2. I suspect their fears are, to a large extent, unfounded. Some of the most popular music ever written was never under copyright in the first place, because copyright did not exist in the modern sense when it was written. Every year there are new recordings made of this music. Amazon.com lists over thirteen thousand recordings for Bach alone. Granted some small percentage of these are for other Bachs than the primary one, and a couple dozen may be for modern music, e.g., that of P.D.Q. Bach; nonetheless, there are _thousands_ of recordings of the music of J.S. Bach, and hundreds of recordings each for numerous other baroque masters (Handel, Pachelbel, Telleman, Purcell, …), to say nothing of the previous and subsequent eras, with which I am less familiar. Anyone can re-arrange, re-record, and remix any of that, freely, and they do. You can freely download MIDI files of much of it.

    Yet, somehow, the world continues to have an interest in the new music being recorded by current celebrity musicians. I put this up primarily to the disproportionate influence of young people (and their tastes) on Western society. Young people (or many of them at any rate) have a psychological need to prefer stuff their parents don’t like, and music that didn’t yet exist when their parents were younger does nicely.

    I don’t think the recording industry is in any real danger. If the copyright term were only thirty years, that would be enough to sustain plenty of interest in their product.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong about their motivations. I’m only saying that they greatly overestimate their risk. They are afraid of bogeymen. They see what is happening to television as the far-more-entertaining internet makes it irrelevant, and they worry this may happen to them. But the considerations are different. Music will not become irrelevant. Radio might (although I suspect it will outlast television), but music won’t.